If you are served with an Illinois divorce summons notice that your spouse has started a divorce case, you may either do nothing and the case will proceed based on the information your spouse provides or respond to the divorce papers and participate in the court case.
If you do not respond, you will have little say in the outcome of the divorce case. Instead, the judge will likely base their decision on what your spouse says and may order a default judgement against you. Although you have the right to challenge the default judgement within a limited period of time, it may be in your best interests to participate in the divorce proceedings to protect your legal rights from the start.
Responding to Illinois Divorce Papers
The better option is to respond to the divorce papers by filing an appearance form and an answer with the court telling your side of the story. This will involve fees to file your case, the cost of legal representation if you decide to hire an attorney, and of course the time and energy it takes to go to court, but it is better to respond and maintain some control over the outcome.
An Appearance form simply lets the court know you plan to take part in the court case and that you would like a judge or jury to consider your case. The Answer is a written response which tells the court whether you agree or disagree with the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage filed by your spouse.
Although, you can appear on your own, “pro se”, it is always a good idea to seek the help of an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure you are on track and getting a fair shake in the matter. If you are just wanting an attorney look over your documents before submitting them to the court, many will do this for a modest fee. In cases where there is marital property or debt, or there are children involved, it is absolutely in your best interest to seek legal advice. The costs of an initial consultation with an attorney is typically reasonable and will provide you with valuable information so that you can make a decision on the best way to proceed depending on the unique circumstances of your case.
Finding a Good Illinois Divorce Attorney
Of course, many who are looking at a divorce cannot afford to squander money on consultations with attorneys that lack knowledge and experience. But how do you find a good divorce attorney? While some people are able to ask a friend or coworker who has gone through a divorce to recommend an attorney, many do not know where to start. Fortunately, in the digital age, most, if not all divorce attorneys have a website that will give you a sense of who they are, their credentials including education, relevant professional experiences and associations, and reviews from existing clients who can speak to their integrity and effectiveness.
After narrowing your choices, you can then call the attorney’s office, providing some general details of what you are up against to decide if you want to move forward with a consultation based on their professionalism or other factors that instill confidence to move ahead. Sometimes when contacting larger firms, it may feel like you have just reached an appointment setter for the attorney, which doesn’t provide much information about who you will be meeting with. Staff and attorneys at smaller firms often work closely as a team and may be able to provide you with a better feel for the attorney and the office as a whole during the initial contact so it is worthwhile to call a couple of firms to see what the differences are to find the right fit.
If you decide to schedule a consultation, you will receive instructions what information you should bring with you to the initial appointment to make the best use of your time. The staff helping you schedule the meeting with the attorney can provide you with answers to general questions and can also provide fee structures so that you know what to expect if you move forward.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Divorce Lawyer
If you have received an Illinois divorce summons notice that your spouse has started a divorce case or are considering divorce and would like more information, contact the Lake county Illinois Family Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell & Associates PC for experienced Family Law help at 847-495-6000. Attorney Bell and his staff have been practicing Family Law for over 30 years, helping many families in the Lake county and Chicago collar suburbs. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with an Illinois divorce, child custody and support, marital property division or other family law matters you may have.